Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: Government, police, families have much to answer for after riot

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: Violence of any kind, regardless of who is involved, should be condemned in the strongest terms. But in the case of the 12-hour riot on Phuket over the weekend, it’s hard not to have at least some sympathy for those who instigated it. The mayhem was the direct result of the killing of two alleged drug dealers who were fleeing the police. We can only ask, again, why petty involvement in illegal drugs must automatically lead to death.

State authorities and members of the public must now, yet again, look into the facts behind this case and meditate on its consequences. The government must now examine, yet again, the lengths to which citizens are prepared to go in search of justice. There are valuable lessons to be learned here, and they are lessons we have been loath to absorb in the past.

Police officers in Phuket’s Thalang district chased two males, ages 22 and 17, who were riding a motorcycle. Both suspects ended up dead. Nearly two hours later the police declared that 50 methamphetamine pills and a kilogram of kratom leaves, a banned intoxicant likened in effect to opium, were found in their possession.

By that time grieving relatives and friends of the youths had gathered in front of the Thalang Police Station demanding an explanation for the killings and a chance to see the four officers involved in the chase. A mix of outrage and curiosity soon swelled the crowd’s numbers to 100, shutting down the road out front, and still no answers were forthcoming to calm their mounting anger.

A gunshot – or something sounding like one – was heard, and the citizens presumed the police had fired at them, so what had been a protest became a full-scale siege. Sticks, stones and eggs were hurled at the station and police vehicles and other cars parked nearby were set on fire.

With the situation out of control, the police still managed to escort the four officers involved in the chase away from the station, and reinforcements were summoned to help the rest trapped inside.

The appalling situation finally came to an end when a military officer intervened, but clearly this case is not going to be so easily resolved. As yet, justice appears to be far from done.

To begin with, suspicion of involvement in the illicit drug trade is no excuse for extrajudicial killing, should that prove to be what happened on Phuket.

Secondly, the police are not allowed to fire their guns at suspects except in self-defence, and even then, there are firm guidelines for any given situation. For self-defence to be claimed, the suspects would also have to be carrying weapons and showing intent to harm.

Quite apart from then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s ‘war on drugs’, when suspects were routinely gunned down, we have seen too many other fatal police shootings in this country. The police have duly reviewed their operating procedures and announced their adherence to ‘Rule No 1’: those who enforce the law must abide by the law. However, some in uniform are not getting the message.

Thirdly, in spite of their anguish, the protesters in Phuket should have remained calm. Justice is to be sought out by peaceful means, as afforded by the law and the courts, not by violence. The ill-considered rashness of mob rule allows for no legitimacy. In taking justice into their own hands, they achieved nothing except to damage private property, as well as police property that’s paid for with tax money.

Finally, let this be a lesson to the stern rule of the National Council for Peace and Order and the military-led government: social justice is important to ordinary citizens, and in these empowered times, they are less likely to tolerate injustice. The resentment mounting within can easily boil over into violence.

— The Nation

 

Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Thaiger Talk Forums.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand17 mins ago

Purchases of fancy street lamps being investigated for possible corruption

Thailand44 mins ago

Thailand News Today | BKK parks re-open… nearly, tropical storm, airport security upgrade | June 14

Thailand58 mins ago

Missing fisherman’s body found in sea off Nakhon Si Thammarat

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 hour ago

CCSA: We’re out of vaccines

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Ayutthaya hospital to test all staff for Covid after 18 test positive

Thailand2 hours ago

13 teenagers arrested in Chon Buri for partying, gathering

Crime2 hours ago

Crime Suppression Division seizes dozens of illegal firearms in a series of raids

Crime3 hours ago

Marijuana valued at 10 million baht seized in Nakhon Phanom, 2 arrested

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 3,355 new cases, provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Almost 100% of teachers and staff vaccinated in Bangkok

Thailand5 hours ago

Almost 8 million register for stimulus scheme, app briefly goes down

Best of5 hours ago

Top 5 best temples in Bangkok

Thailand5 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | What’s happening in Pattaya, Phuket sandbox, reopening for tourism

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

25 vaccination sites put on hold in Bangkok

Phuket6 hours ago

Ambulance crashes into a lightpole in Phuket

Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism3 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending